COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an Order today to extend the Guidelines for Re-opening, issued on 30-09-2020, to remain in force upto 30-11-2020

Re-opening of activities outside the Containment Zones

    • Since the issuance of the first Order on lockdown measures by MHA on 24th March 2020, almost all activities have been gradually opened up in areas outside the Containment Zones. While most of the activities have been permitted, some activities involving large number of people, have been allowed with some restrictions and subject to SOPs being followed regarding health and safety precautions. These activities include – metro rail; shopping malls; hotel, restaurants and hospitality services; religious places; yoga and training institutes; gymnasiums; cinemas; entertainment park etc.
    • In respect of certain activities, having relatively higher degree of risk of COVID infection, State/ UT Governments have been permitted to take decisions for their re-opening, based on the assessment of the situation and subject to SOPs. These activities include – schools and coaching institutes; State and private universities for research scholars; allowing gatherings above the limit of 100 etc.
    • After the last guidelines issued by MHA on 30.09.2020, the following activities are also permitted but with certain restrictions:
  1. International air travel of passengers as permitted by MHA.
  2. Swimming pools being used for training of sportspersons.
  3. Exhibitions halls for Business to Business (B2B) purposes.
  4. Cinemas/ theatres/ multiplexes upto 50% of their seating capacity.
  5. Social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations, in closed spaces with a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity and subject to a ceiling of 200 persons.

The further decision regarding the above activities will be taken based on the assessment of the situation

COVID-Appropriate behavior

    • The essence behind graded re-opening and progressive resumption of activities is to move ahead. However, it does not mean the end of the pandemic. There is a need to exercise abundant caution by adopting COVID-19 appropriate behavior by every citizen in their daily routine. A ‘Jan Andolan’ was launched by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on 8th October 2020 on COVID-19 appropriate behavior to follow three mantras, namely:
  1. wear your mask properly;
  2. wash your hands frequently; and
  3. maintain a safe distance of 6 feet.
    • There is an urgent need to instil a sense of discipline and ownership amongst citizens in order that the resumption of activities is successful and gains made in the management of the pandemic are not diluted.
    • MHA has already advised Chief Secretaries/ Administrators of all States/ UTs that they should endeavour to promote COVID-19 appropriate behavior extensively at the grass root level and take measures to enforce the wearing of masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.

National Directives for COVID-19 management

  • National Directives for COVID-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, so as to enforce COVID-19 appropriate behavior.

Strict enforcement of lockdown in Containment Zones till 30th November 2020

  • Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the Containment Zones till 30th November, 2020.
  • Containment Zones shall be demarcated by the District authorities at micro-level after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW with the objective of effectively breaking the chain of transmission. Strict containment measures will be enforced in these containment zones and only essential activities will be allowed.
  • Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed.
  • These Containment Zones will be notified on the websites of the respective District Collectors and by the States/ UTs and information will also be shared with MOHFW.

States not to impose any local lockdown outside Containment Zones

  • State/ UT Governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City/ village level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central Government.

No restriction on Inter-State and intra-State movement

  • There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods.No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

Protection for vulnerable persons

  • Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

Use of AarogyaSetu

  • The use of AarogyaSetu mobile application will continue to be encouraged.

Ministry of Home Affairs

[Source: PIB]


Also Read:

[UNLOCK-5] MHA issues new Guidelines for Re-opening; Flexibility to States UTs for opening of schools

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

In view of the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India had taken a series of steps to curtail the inward and outward movement of international passengers since February, 2020.

The Government has now decided to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals and Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India.

Therefore, it has been decided to permit all OCI and PIO cardholders and all other foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose, except on a Tourist Visa to enter by air or water routes through authorized airports and seaport immigration check posts.  This includes flights operated under Vande Bharat Mission, Air Transport Bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. All such travellers will however have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding quarantine and other health/COVID-19 matters.

Under this graded relaxation, Government of India has also decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas (except electronic visa, Tourist Visa and Medical Visa).  If the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian Mission/Posts concerned.

Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply for a Medical Visa including for their medical attendants. Therefore, this decision will enable foreign nationals to come to India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes etc.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 22-10-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Allegations levelled by Amnesty International

National Human Rights Commission, India takes suo motu cognizance of the matter and directs issuance of the notice to the Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, New Delhi, calling for their comments on the allegations levelled by the Amnesty International as mentioned in the news report.

According to media reports that the complete freezing of its India bank accounts the Amnesty International Organization in India has reportedly halted all the work in which it has been engaged in the country.

In a statement, the organization has stated that it has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work.

It is alleged that this is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Govt. of India over unfounded and motivated allegations.

The news report gives more details stating that on 22-10-19, Amnesty International testified at the US Congressional hearing on human rights in South Asia, with a specific focus on Jammu & Kashmir after the Indian Parliament on 5th August pushed through constitutional changes that divested Jammu & Kashmir of its special status and reorganized it into two Union Territories. On August, 28 the rights groups released an investigative brief on the complicity of the Delhi Police in the month of February, 2020. Amnesty International had claimed that 53 people had died in the riot while Delhi Police rebutted the claim saying that the report was lopsided, biased and malicious. Amnesty International has reportedly accused the government of suppressing the speech and demanded the release of activists Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Sudha Bhardwaj, Surendra Gadling and others who were arrested in connection with the January, 2018 caste clashes in Bhima-Koregaon near Pune in Maharashtra. It is also mentioned in the news report that this is the fifth time when Amnesty International is closing down its office in India.

The Union Home Ministry has reportedly mentioned in their statement that the stand taken by the Amnesty International is unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth. The organization has been accused of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) violations, and “interference in domestic police debates” despite being funded by foreign donations.

The rights group has reportedly denied the financial violations charges and has stated that they have been in full compliance with all laws.

INVESTIGATION

It is further mentioned in the news report that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been investigating the rights group since October, 2018 when they raided its office in Bengaluru and the accounts of the organization were frozen. In the year 2019, the Income Tax Department wrote to the office bearers of the organization seeking their clarifications on the subject. It is also mentioned that in November, 2019, CBI has filed a case against Amnesty International alleging that it has received Rs. 36 crore in funding without the mandatory permission required under the FCRA. The Investigative Agencies have also reportedly alleged that the fundraising model of Amnesty International India was in violation of FCRA that amounts to money laundering. The organization has also been blamed for its activities which are in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws. The organization has reportedly stated that their harassment by the government is a result of their unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi Police and the Government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in the Delhi riots and in Jammu & Kashmir. The charges of the organization have however been denied by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleging that the organization was raising funds from abroad in contravention of the Indian laws. They have also stated that there has been shifting money transfer to the companies and there is a suspected flow of money into the trust of Amnesty International.

The Commission has carefully examined the contents of the news report.

Amnesty International is a reputed non-governmental organization raising its voice globally whenever there is an incident of violation of the human rights of the people. The allegations levelled by the organization are serious in nature and have been strongly answered by the government agency. Any kind of difference of opinion may be a subject of investigation and decision by the competent court.

The Commission finds it necessary to go through the matter, analyse the facts and reach a conclusion in the interest of human rights friendly environment in the country.

The response is expected within six weeks.


NHRC

[Press Release dt. 30-09-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued new guidelines today, for opening up more activities in areas outside the Containment Zones. In these guidelines, which will come into effect from October 1, 2020, the process of re-opening of activities has been extended further. The new guidelines, issued today, are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related Central Ministries and Departments.

Salient features of the new guidelines

Activities permitted from 15th October 2020, in areas outside the Containment Zones

  • Cinemas/ theatres/ multiplexes will be permitted to open with upto 50% of their seating capacity, for which, SOP will be issued by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
  • Business to Business (B2B) Exhibitions will be permitted to open, for which, SOP will be issued by the Department of Commerce.
  • Swimming pools being used for training of sportspersons will be permitted to open, for which the standard operating procedure (SOP) will be issued by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYA&S).
  • Entertainment parks and similar places will be permitted to open, for which the SOP will be issued by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW).

Opening of Schools, colleges, education institutions and coaching institutions

  • For re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after 15th October 2020, in a graded manner.  The decision shall be taken in consultation with the respective school/ institution management, based on their assessment of the situation, and subject to the following conditions:
  • Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.
  • Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so.
  • Students may attend schools/ institutions only with the written consent of parents.
  • Attendance must not be enforced, and must depend entirely on parental consent.
  • States /UTs will prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools/ institutions based on the SOP to be issued by Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education, Government of India, keeping local requirements in view.
  • Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of States/ UTs.
  • Department of Higher Education (DHE), Ministry of Education may take a decision on the timing of the opening of Colleges/ Higher Education Institutions, in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), based on the assessment of the situation. Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.
  • However, Higher Education Institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/ experimental works will be permitted to open from 15th October, 2020, as under:
    1. For Centrally Funded Higher Education Institutions, the Head of Institution will satisfy herself/ himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars (Ph.D) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory/experimental works.
    2. For all other Higher Education Institutions e.g. State Universities, Private Universities etc., they may open only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and postgraduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/experimental works as per decision to be taken by the respective State/UT Governments.

Regulation of gatherings

  • Social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations have already been permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, outside Containment Zones only.  Now State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to permit such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons, outside Containment Zones, after 15th October 2020, which will be subject to the following conditions:
  • In closed spaces, a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons. Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizer will be mandatory.
  • In open spaces, keeping the size of the ground/ space in view, and with strict observance of social distancing, mandatory wearing of face masks, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer.

To ensure that such gatherings do not spread COVID-19, State/ UT Governments will issue detailed SOPs to regulate such gathering, and strictly enforce the same.

  • All activities, except the following, shall be permitted outside containment zones:
    1. International air travel of passengers, except as permitted by MHA.
  • Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the Containment Zones till 31st October, 2020.
  • Containment Zones shall be demarcated by the District authorities at micro level after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW with the objective of effectively breaking the chain of transmission. Strict containment measures will be enforced in these containment zones and only essential activities will be allowed.
  • Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed.
  • These Containment Zones will be notified on the websites of the respective District Collectors and by the States/ UTs and information will also be shared with MOHFW.

States not to impose any local lockdown outside Containment Zones

  • State/ UT Governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City/ village level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central Government.

No restriction on Inter-State and intra-State movement

  • There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

National Directives for COVID-19 management

  • National Directives for COVID-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, with a view to ensure social distancing.  Shops will need to maintain adequate physical distancing among customers. MHA will monitor the effective implementation of National Directives.

Protection for vulnerable persons

  • Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

Use of Aarogya Setu

  • The use of Aarogya Setu mobile application will continue to be encouraged.

Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 30-09-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

The stand taken and the statements made by Amnesty International are unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth.

The facts of the matter are as follows:

Amnesty International had received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once and that too twenty years ago (19.12.2000). Since then Amnesty International, despite its repeated applications, has been denied FCRA approval by successive governments since as per law it is not eligible to get such an approval.

However, in order to circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four entities registered in India, by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA’s approval under FCRA. This mala fide rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions.

Owing to these illegal practices of Amnesty, the previous government had also rejected the repeated applications of Amnesty to receive funds from overseas. This had led Amnesty to suspend its India operations once during that period as well. This bipartisan and purely legal approach towards Amnesty, under different governments, makes it clear that the entire fault lies in the dubious processes adopted by Amnesty to secure funds for its operations.

All the glossy statements about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power are nothing but a ploy to divert attention from their activities which were in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws. Such statements are also an attempt to extraneously influence the course of investigations by multiple agencies into the irregularities and illegalities carried out over the last few years.

Amnesty is free to continue humanitarian work in India, as is being done by many other organizations. However, India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations. This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well.

India has a rich and pluralistic democratic culture with a free press, independent judiciary and tradition of vibrant domestic debate. The people of India have placed unprecedented trust in the current government. Amnesty’s failure to comply with local regulations does not entitle them to make comments on the democratic and plural character of India.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 29-09-2020]

COVID 19Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued new guidelines today for opening up of more activities in areas outside the Containment Zones. In Unlock 4, which will come into effect from September 1, 2020, the process of phased re-opening of activities has been extended further. The new guidelines, issued today, are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related Central Ministries and Departments.

Salient features of the new guidelines

  • Metro rail will be allowed to operate with effect from 7th September 2020 in a graded manner, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA)/ Ministry of Railways (MOR), in consultation with MHA. In this regard, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be issued by MOHUA.
  • Social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations will be permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, with effect from 21st September 2020. However, such limited gatherings can be held with mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer.
  • Open air theatres will be permitted to open with effect from 21st September 2020.
  • After extensive consultation with States and UTs, it has been decided that Schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity up to 30th September 2020. Online/distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged. However, following will be permitted, in areas outside the Containment Zones only, with effect from 21st September 2020 for which, SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW):
    1. States/ UTs may permit upto 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to the schools at a time for online teaching/ tele- counselling and related work.
    2. Students of classes 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit their schools, in areas outside the Containment Zones only, on voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers. This will be subject to written consent of their parents/ guardians.
    3. Skill or Entrepreneurship training will be permitted in National Skill Training Institutes, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Short term training centres registered with National Skill Development Corporation or State Skill Development Missions or other Ministries of Government of India or State Governments.

National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) and their training providers will also be permitted.

  • Higher Education Institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D.) and post-graduate students of technical and professional programmes requiring laboratory/ experimental works. These will be permitted by the Department of Higher Education (DHE) in consultation with MHA, based on the assessment of the situation, and keeping in view incidence of COVID-19 in the States/ UTs.
  • All activities, except the following, shall be permitted outside containment zones:
  1. Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres (excluding open air theatre) and similar places.
  2. International air travel of passengers, except as permitted by MHA.
  • Lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the Containment Zones till 30th September, 2020.
  • Containment Zones shall be demarcated by the District authorities at micro level after taking into consideration the guidelines of MoHFW with the objective of effectively breaking the chain of transmission. Strict containment measures will be enforced in these containment zones and only essential activities will be allowed.
  • Within the containment zones, strict perimeter control shall be maintained and only essential activities allowed.
  • These Containment Zones will be notified on the websites of the respective District Collectors and by the States/ UTs and information will also be shared with MOHFW.

States not to impose any local lockdown outside Containment Zones

State/ UT Governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City/ village level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Central Government.

No restriction on Inter-State and intra-State movement

  • There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

National Directives for COVID-19 management

  • National Directives for COVID-19 management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, with a view to ensure social distancing.  Shops will need to maintain adequate physical distancing among customers. MHA will monitor the effective implementation of National Directives.

Protection for vulnerable persons

  • Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

Use of Aarogya Setu

  • The use of Aarogya Setu mobile application will continue to be encouraged.

Click here to see MHA Guidelines

Click here to see D.O Letter

Read the guidelines here: UNLOCK-4 GUIDELINES


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 29-08-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Centre has asked the States that there should be no restrictions imposed on the inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods and services during the present prevailing Unlock-3 guidelines.

In a communication to Chief Secretaries of all States, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stated that it has been reported that local level restrictions on movement are being imposed by various districts/States.  Such restrictions are creating problems in the inter-State movement of goods and services and are impacting the supply chain, resulting in disruption of economic activities and employment, besides affecting the supply of goods and services.

The MHA has said such restrictions at the local level imposed by District Administrations or by States, amount to a violation of the guidelines issued by the MHA under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Drawing attention to the MHA’s Order dated July 29, 2020, specifying Guidelines for Unlock-3, the communication reiterates that there shall be no restriction on inter-State and Intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

This includes the movement of persons and goods for cross land border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 22-08-2020]

[Source: PIB]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Election Commission of India approved the broad guidelines for conduct of general/bye-elections during the COVID-19 period.

After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) have been issuing guidelines from time to time.

In their latest circular dated 29-07-2020, MHA has issued comprehensive guidelines/directives to be followed countywide. Similarly, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has also issued SOP on disinfection, sanitization, and prevention for containing COVID-19.

Earlier, Commission, on 17-07-2020, had sought views/suggestions of National/State Political Parties till 31-07-2020 and had further extended the period टिल 11-08- 2020 on request of the Political parties. Commission has considered the views/suggestions received from various Political Parties and Chief Electoral Officers of States/UTs on the election campaign and public meetings.

Salient features of the guidelines include the following:

The Commission has revised the norms of number of persons accompanying the candidate and number of vehicles at the time of nomination. It has also created optional facility to fill the nomination form and the affidavit online and submission of the same, after taking print, before the RO concerned. For the first time, the candidates will have the option to deposit security amount for contesting the elections online. Keeping the containment guidelines in view, the Commission has limited the number of persons including candidate for door to door campaign to five. Public meeting and road shows shall be permissible with suitable instructions subject to containment instructions issued by the MHA/State. Face Mask, Sanitizer, Thermal scanners, gloves, face shield and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process ensuring social distancing norms. Hand gloves shall be provided to all the electors for signing on the voter register and pressing button of EVM for voting.

The Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs, shall make comprehensive State/District & AC election plans regarding arrangement and preventive measures following these guidelines taking local conditions into account. These plans will be prepared in consultation with Nodal Officer for COVID-19 in their respective States/UTs.

Guidelines are available at https://eci.gov.in/files/file/12167-guidelines-for-conduct-of-general-electionbye-election-during-covid-19/


Election Commission

[Press Release dt. 21-08-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of S.J. Kathawalla and R.I. Chagla, JJ., quashed and set aside the unreasonable restriction placed by the State of Maharashtra on prohibiting the actors, crew members, etc. who are above the age of 65 years from being present at the site of the shooting of films/television series/Over The Top Media (OTT) in light of the same being discriminatory.

Petitioner is an actor by profession who had challenged the condition imposed by the Government of Maharashtra’s Resolution according to which persons above the age of 65 years are prohibited from remaining present at the site of the shooting of films/television series/Over The Top Media (OTT).

Discriminatory and Arbitrary

The government resolution is discriminatory, arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India because at the time the same was issued, Central, as well as the Maharashtra Government, had relaxed the general prohibition on the movement of persons above the age of 65 years.

Right to Carry on Trade and Occupation

As against this, a prohibition on the movement of persons above the age of 65 years continued to operate in the film and television industry. It is also submitted that the impugned condition is an unreasonable restriction on the petitioners’ right to carry on their trade and occupation, as also the impugned condition deprives the petitioner of his right to earn a livelihood with dignity.

Government Pleader for the Respondent State, Purnima H. Kantharia submitted that the Government of Maharashtra’s Resolution is based on Centres’ order passed under the DM Act.

Further, he added that, the restrictions are in the interest of persons with low or weak immunity as the disease is easily communicable.

The restriction is not absolute. Persons above the age of 65 years may work from home, over video conferencing, email, video sharing etc.

Until the Central and State Governments relax the guidelines, the Respondent is bound to strictly implement the aforesaid Orders issued under the DM Act, as the MHA Orders specifically provide for strict enforcement of the Lockdown Orders by the respective State Governments.

“…though the Impugned Condition reads as a prohibition, no coercive action will be taken against anyone above the age of 65 years who chooses to remain present at the site of the shooting of films/television series / OTT. The prohibition is issued in the interest of the health and safety of persons who are above the age of 65 years and is to be read as such.”

Analysis and Decision

Bench while analysing the facts and circumstances of the case, started while stating that Sections 38 and 39 of the DM Act empower the State Government to take measures to deal with the disaster at hand, which in this case is the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keeping the above in mind and being fully conscious of the hardship and risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Court first considered the challenge to the impugned condition under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Intelligible Differentia

In Court’s opinion, impugned condition was not based on any intelligible differentia.

Whilst there may be a nexus with the object sought to be achieved, i.e. to protect vulnerable people from the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no intelligible differentia between persons who are 65 years of age or above in the cast/crew of films and TV shootings on the one hand and persons who are 65 years of age or above in other sectors and services, permitted under prevailing lockdown orders.

Thus, there is discrimination in the disparate treatment of persons who are 65 years of age or above in the film or television industry and in the other permitted sectors and permitted activities and no explanation on the said aspect has been given by the State Government.

Hence, Impugned Condition, therefore, cannot be sustained in view of the well-settled principles enunciated under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Further, the said impugned condition also failed to take into consideration the relevant material, namely the relaxation contained in orders dated 30th May 2020 and 31st May 2020 issued by MHA and the Government of Maharashtra respectively, which reads as an advisory for persons above the age of 65 years.

Impugned Condition in light of Article 21 of the Constitution

Citing the decision of Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corpn., (1985) 3 SCC 545, it was stated that the Righto Earn a livelihood and the Right to Live with Dignity are well-established facets of the Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Court added that coming to the conclusion that the impugned condition cannot be sustained on account of it being discriminatory and arbitrary, stated 

“we are satisfied that the absolute prohibition as regards persons above the age of 65 years who earn their livelihood from the film industry (which is allowed to operate), is a measure that violates the Petitioner’s right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution and the restriction imposed by the Impugned Condition in relation to a specific sector or industry that is now allowed to operate, cannot constitute a valid procedure established by law.”

Hence, on perusal of the above observations, the Court held that if there are no general prohibitions on persons above the age of 65 years from working or practicing their trade in those sectors and businesses which are allowed to operate, an age-based prohibition in only one industry namely the film industry/television / OTT, without any material to support its differential classification, would constitute an unreasonable restriction.

The stated impugned condition was quashed and set aside in view of being an unreasonable restriction. [Pramod Pandey v. State of Maharashtra,  2020 SCC OnLine Bom 846, decided on 07-08-2020]


Also Read:

Bom HC | How a physically fit person of 65 years age or above is expected to live a dignified life if not allowed to go out & earn livelihood? Maharashtra Govt to respond

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court, while hearing to a writ petition, took serious note of the panic created by Fake News leading to mass movement of migrant labourers. This has lead to untold suffering to these people, the Court observed.

Following up on the Court’s observations, Secretary, Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA), Ajay Kumar Bhalla has written to all States/UTs to take effective measures to fight Fake News.

It has been communicated that the Government of India is creating a web-portal for people to verify facts and unverified news promptly. States/UTs have been requested to create a similar mechanism at their level for issues relating to them.

The Apex Court has also made observations and directions to ensure provision of basic amenities such as food, medicines etc. in line with NDMA/MHA directives and other welfare activities in relief shelters for migrant labourers. The States/UTs have been communicated to comply with the Directives/Advisories/Orders issued by Central Government in letter and spirit, for containment of spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Click here to see Communication to States/UTs


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 02-04-2020]

[Source: PIB]